Miracle Hill Ministries rejected the couple’s application in May

Brandy Welch and Eden Rogers, a lesbian married couple, have filed a case against the South Carolina Government and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over provisions which permit foster care agencies operating in South Carolina state to deny any prospective parent to adopt a child due to their religion or following any other religious policies. A civil rights coalition group filed this lawsuit on behalf of the couple. The list of participants, in this case, include South Carolina ACLU and the Equality Coalition in the state. The lawsuit names as defendants the HHS and the organization’s Administration for Children and Families division, Governor Henry McMaster and state Department of Social Services. Governor McMaster requested the waiver and Administration for Children and Families division granted it.

Welch applied with Rogers through Miracle Hill Ministries for both of them to be foster parents. Miracle Hill Ministries is the biggest foster care agency contracted by South Carolina state. They received a setback when their application was denied in May. Miracle Hill Ministries could do so due to HHS granting a waiver to all federally funded groups operating in South Carolina which permitted the former to deny applications due to their sexual orientation or faith. The lesbian couple’s application was rejected in May as Miracle Hill Ministries felt “a religious obligation to partner with foster parents who share our beliefs and who are active in a Christian church.”

This lawsuit represents the latest when it comes to debating “conscience protections” and the “religious exemptions” in the field of healthcare and others. Critics of the policy call it state-sponsored blatant discrimination targeting the LGBTQ community and those who do not subscribe to the Christian faith. According to the South Carolina administration, these measures are a must to allow faith-centric organizations to operate sans compromising their own beliefs.

The lawsuit filed by the South Carolina couple wants to rescind this waiver. It requests a permanent injunction which discriminates against the prospective foster parents depending on their sexual orientation, marital status, religion or sex as gay couples. In her statement, Brandy Welch said that faith is a component of their family life and it is thus insulting and hurtful that the religious view taken by Miracle Hill Ministries of what a family must appear deprives foster children of the chance of a supportive and nurturing home.

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